Quiet Comfort

When I was seven years old, lacking for anything better to do with my time to eetnertain myself, I used to read my mother’s women’s magazines. I was under the mistaken belief that reading was, itself, always a good thing, and my mother favoured the twee British version of Woman’s Weekly, a publication that came out every week (as opposed to the Australian Women’s Weekly, which came out every month, because we’re idiots). This publication was pretty thin on anything, in hindsight – it had short fiction, serials, interviews with G-rated performers about G-rated things, and advice columns.

Once, in the advice column, a woman wrote about how her husband and her didn’t talk much any more, and how she found it very distressing that sometimes, he could just sit next to her on the sofa, without the TV or wireless (a kind of radio used by old people) on, and just fall asleep.

The advice-er noted that this was quite beautiful: he was so comfortable with her, so happy in her presence, he could just slip into sleep. Also, the pair were in their eighties and had been married forty years, so, you know.

I noticed this once with Fox, too: some days when we were dating we would both sit near one another, working on books or writing or drawing or computer games. We didn’t need to be directly interacting to be sharing our presence, our time with one another. Sometimes one of us would say something, based on what they were doing, we’d talk a little bit, then we’d lapse back again into comfortable silence.

Be happy when you find the friends and loved ones around whom you can choose to be quiet.